A Place to Stake it All in the New Year

I am really happy about a new year coming up, all unsullied, fresh. I used to think, “Wow, I wonder what all will happen this year? I want to make a difference, be all I should be, reach around to the people who need me and make everybody feel happy and celebrated, etc. etc. I want it to be a good year!” Now it is more like, “Wow, I wonder what all will happen this year? One thing is sure, I am not going to do everything right and very likely there will be really yucky stuff mixed in with all the celebrations.”

This is not the inevitable downer of a weary lady who has lost the sparkle of life. It is just my deeply realistic take on seasons… You want fruitfulness and summertime? Well, you may need bleak midwinter first, with yuck and boredom and mud. The thing is, I have more hope now than I did when I wanted everything to be exciting. I have seen the goodness of God, first hand, in the middle of chaos and I am not afraid. That is the marvel of it, because life can be downright terrifying. Like Peter, when I look at the waves, I sink. I am embarrassed sometimes at the things that have made me sink. “Jesus, save me! There is clutter everywhere and I am so weary of keeping house and doing the same old, same old stuff and the children have terrible attitudes about their chores and I just tripped over the doll stroller for the hundredth time and my hormones are all out of whack. I am sinking here!” If I were Jesus, I would probably think that was a pretty silly thing to be going under about, like you are standing in only two feet of water, lady. But He doesn’t, and I feel His hand pulling me up to walk beside Him again. That is why I am not afraid. If He has been redeeming my soul from destruction all these years, He will continue to do it in the coming year.

I am learning that what makes life sweet is not me, because I am flawed and incapable of making cakes out of mud. Jesus is the One who does that. Instead of a list of resolutions, I am asking Him simply to give me grace to hold up the ingredients of life in the coming year and let Him make them, by some miracle of sheer grace, into a celebration.

Last January I resolved to read the Bible in chronological order this year. It was good discipline for me, having used my babies as an excuse for a long time to just skim for encouragement. The plan got a set back when our iPad with the app I was using was stolen, but I found a similar plan online and kept on. I started this week only 13 days behind, and having gotten so close, I determined to finish. My concluding assignment for today is the book of Revelation. I like this method, linking events in the Scriptures in the order they happened. It builds trust to see the theme of faithfulness all throughout the written record. If God says it, it will happen. I am staking everything on that.

Heb. 6:17  So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever …

Ordinary, Infused with Everlasting

So when she was single, the girl didn’t dream much about ordinary things. The thing about dreams is that they are wonderful. In them, she was the heroine. She was visible. She was on top, making a difference, feeling fulfilled. She didn’t think so much of dirty, gritty details like insufficient toilet facilities and sickness in missionary families far from good medical care. She didn’t dream of difficulties; she dreamed of adventure and achievement. Of course, she reserved a very private place where she dreamed of the love of a good man and the security of marriage. To her amazement, she really did get that love and marriage (and the babies, and the baby carriage)! Wow. Things settled into a somewhat frantic routine of not neglecting the thing that was right in front of her. There really was not a lot of time for a head in the clouds.

She was sort of a hard learner, and it took a while for her to “get it” that as a married woman, there would be glory in the meld of her dreams with her husband’s dreams. Her role was cast by God as a supporting role, a helper without whom her husband would be a bit disabled. 🙂 With the years and a good bit of trial and error, she came to understand that it was a wonderful place, a privilege to stand behind her man, to help him achieve his dreams. I am not suggesting that she was on such an exalted plane that she never whined, “But, what about Me?”

Here is what she wishes she had known all along. The happy woman keeps her dreams portable. There is only frustration and unloveliness in doggedly trying to make things happen the way she thinks they should happen.

Life is seasons. There may come a time for some of the obscure dreams to become reality. But for now, she is free to revel in the everyday, sometimes camouflaged goodness that is given. I have learned something from that girl. (Work with me here. Pretend you don’t see through that third person thing. 🙂 ) Just because living is lots of sameness and hard work doesn’t mean it is not valuable. The things which endure grow out of the ordinary. 

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(for wallpaper dot com)

…. I am not done yet…